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Girl Scouts take cookie sales into the digital age

Girl Scouts are honing 21st century business skills by taking their cookie sales online. About 25% of local troops that sell cookies use the digital platform.

PORTLAND, Ore. — From groceries to gadgets you can buy just about anything online and have it delivered right to your door step. Now you can add Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and Do-si-dos to that list.

Girl Scout Cookie sales have gone digital, but that doesn’t mean these young ladies are getting any less of an education in the business world.

Pearl and Anastasia, two local girl scouts, love cookie season.

"Cookie season is fun and the second it ends I'm crying for it," Anastasia said. "And the second it begins I'm celebrating so much that I'm driving my friends insane."

From Toffee-tastics to Lemon-Ups these 11-year-olds have a sales strategy.

“You want to sell a bunch at the beginning and then a bunch at the end, because in the middle everyone's just like, 'I have enough cookies,' but then they eat them all and at the end they're like, 'I need more cookies!'" Pearl said.

These young entrepreneurs have been knocking on doors and pitching to customers at booths for years to sell their cookies. Now they’re taking their skills in sales into the digital age, selling cookies online.

The Girl Scouts introduced the Digital Cookie program in Oregon and Southwest Washington about five seasons ago and it is really starting to take off. About 25% of local groups selling cookies use the online platform.

"What's really exciting is that each season it grows and more of our girl scouts are using it and so, more of our customer know about it and we're very, very excited," COO of Girls Scouts of Oregon and SW Washington Paige Walker said.

An expertise in eCommerce is becoming a must for anyone working in sales and marketing. Like most businesses, Girl Scouts can now meet their customers wherever they might be and that includes online.

“Well, especially if you have relatives that do not live near you at all. It's a lot more convenient,” Pearl said.

The Digital Cookie idea is pretty simple. Girl Scouts create their own cookie website, called their "Cookie World." The girls can post videos, answer customer questions and personalize their page.

“If you just send an email then that way, they can ask you questions,” Pearl said.

They then invite friends and family to visit the site and order their cookies. It’s a place for customers to place their orders, pick a delivery option, and pay all online.

The way they sell is evolving and so too are the business skills they're learning.

“As entrepreneurs they're learning how to make decisions, they're setting goals for themselves, they're making, even, decisions about how and where they're going to sell, what they're going to sell to their customer,” Walker said.

It took Anastasia’s mom, Sandy, a while to warm up to the digital sales idea. The "cookie mom" worried it would take away from that personal interaction, but with the ease and convenience it gives customers, she has come around.

"It allows your customers the convenience of buying by credit card and a lot of people don't really carry cash anymore," Sandy said.

In one week this month, local scouts sold 38,000 boxes online. Overall though, digital cookie sales only amount for about 7% of sales.

Digital Cookie won't do away with door-to-door sales or booths. It is just adding to it. Now, on top of honing skills in goal setting, people, decision making, they're getting hands-on experience at eCommerce.

As always, the money the girls make selling their delicious deserts stays local.

"It's just been so cool to see how many adventures and independent things she's been able to do, and we've been able to go to all the different girl scouts of Oregon and SW Washington camps," said Pearl's mom, Susan.

Safety is a key component of Digital Cookie. Before girls can set up their site, they first learn about internet safety, take an internet safety pledge, and parents must give the final approval.

To learn more about Digital Cookie visit the website.

Looking to find Girl Scout Cookies near you? Check out the Cookie Finder online.

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